The sentencing hearing occurs after the defendant has pled guilty, nolo contendere or is found guilty after trial. A criminal sentence in Orlando consists of the written judgment and a sentencing order. Many conditions, however, play a role in how the judge decides to sentence the defendant in the criminal process.
The terms and conditions of a criminal sentence ultimately depend on many external factors. Whether the defendant entered a negotiated plea, open plea or a trial concluded in a guilty verdict all play a role in the sentencing of a suspected criminal.
If the prosecution and defense have agreed to a plea, the sentencing hearing is likely to be straightforward. The judge will put into action the agreed upon sentence and neither mitigation nor character evidence will be necessary. However, if the judge disagrees with the resolution, the parties will either have to readjust the agreement to satisfy the judge or agree to additional terms the judge suggests.
Open pleas can come as a result of either one of two things: the prosecution chooses not to make an offer, or the defense believes the judge will issue a more favorable solution than what the prosecution is offering. In either case, the judge will hold the responsibility of issuing an appropriate sentence. He or she has the freedom to issue any sentence as long as is it is between the minimum and maximum sentence allowed.
If found guilty by a jury, the judge has the responsibility of sentencing the defendant. The judge can take into account evidence presented at trial, U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines as well as information provided by the defense attorney, pretrial services officer, or the U.S. attorney. The judge will also consider if the individual was a first time offender, as in such cases, a pre-sentence investigation report (PSIR) will be deemed necessary.
A PSI ultimately serves as a comprehensive background check. A probation officer from the Florida Department of Corrections will question the individual, his or her family, friends, and witnesses in the case to fulfill the PSI. The PSI can also include a criminal history check, references to character, education, employment, and health. The judge will hear mitigation and take into account character evidence to issue what he or she sees to be a fair sentence.
Criminal sentences can involve community patrol, probation, incarceration, or a combination of the three. Fines, although most relevant in drug and misdemeanor crimes, can also be imposed in addition to any other sentence ruling.
Also known as house arrest, community control confines an individual to is or her home, only allowing the person to leave to go to work, school, church, community service event or any other court-approved activity. Individuals placed on community control are under the constant watch of officers, even on weekends and holidays. Violation of community control may result in revocation of the prison alternative and placement behind bars.
Probation is a more lenient version of community control, but with similar principles. Those on probation must report to an officer monthly who ensures that fines are paid, community service is performed, and any other conditions are met. When on probation the individual must also notify their officer before changing residences, leaving the country, and switching jobs while remaining a law-abiding citizen. Violation of probation may lead to incarceration.
Jail time is the harshest of all criminal sentences and can be brought on as a violation of community control, probation, or as a direct result of a plea or guilty verdict. The incarceration sentence is at the discretion of the judge and is only limited by the maximum penalty specified by law for the particular criminal offense.
Having charges lessened for a lighter sentence or even dismissed is possible with the help of an Orlando criminal defense lawyer at The Umansky Law Firm. Our team of attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience representing those facing criminal charges and can put their legal insight to work for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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